What is mental health?


psychotherapy in toronto:  mental health


The best definition of mental health is from the World Health Organization (WHO):

Mental health is not just the absence of mental disorder. It is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.

Mental health is about well-being on many different levels:  emotional, psychological, social and even spiritual. Thoughts, feelings, moods, attitudes, beliefs and awareness of all these feed in to behaviors, which in turn affect thoughts, feelings, moods, attitudes and beliefs.Do you handle stress well (or behave differently when the pressure is on)?

  • Do you for the most part have good relationships with the people in your life, including
    your family, friends, work colleagues and the larger community you live in, (or are many
    of these fraught with tension and conflict)?
  • Are you happy with the choices you make (or does indecision often keep you in a frazzled state)?
  • Do you enjoy peace of mind on a regular basis (or do you worry and fret over most situations)?
  • Are you aware of your self-talk?  (Self-talk is what you say to yourself in your thoughts,
    or even out loud).  Does your self-talk create a positive feedback loop (or a negative one)?
  • Are you aware of your feelings and emotions (or do you avoid or suppress certain feelings)?
  • Do you have unresolved grief issues?
  • Are you able to forgive others and yourself (or do you hold on to grudges and mistakes
    you and others have made)?
  • Are you able to be honest with yourself (or do you tell yourself little lies that keep you
    from living the life you want)?
  • Are you on track to realize your own unique potential (or are you unclear about how
    amazing a person you really are)?

Mental health affects people at every stage of life, from childhood till your final days, and is itself impacted by many complex factors.

  • Genetics and brain chemistry play a part – including the genetic makeup of the body you
    were born with, and any physically vulnerable predispositions you may have inherited from
    your biological parents.
  • Your individual life experiences also count – from the traumatic to the joyful.
  • A family history of mental health problems (such as poor communication patterns,
    addiction and other dysfunctional ways) can also contribute to mental health concerns.